Part One: Parental Bliss

We thought it right to give you a bit of an update and for those of you who might not know, we are safely back in Gurnee, Illinois with our two Siberian Treasures!

We have three toddlers in our house. Zhenya, three, Aleksander, fifteen months (and a talented walker, I might add), and then there's Winston, who just came back from his extended vacation with Grandma and Grandpa. We are convinced he is our "dog-life-long" toddler. It's a terrier thing!

If at this point you are getting concerned about our sanity, we really do appreciate the thought. You know that two adults are grieving their loss of independence when they practically throw a party every night once the kids are sound asleep! No seriously! Sometimes it feels like Erik and I are experiencing an all out military coup on our once leisurely lifestyle, egos and of course those romantic moments in marriage! We literally have to check that our parental warring gear is on before we attempt to walk out of our room to face the onslaught. Here is a peek into some of our secret nighttime conversations. They sound something like this:

"Did you hear that!" (we have become very light sleepers)
"No, what? you think she's...oh no, I can't believe it."
"Shhh, no wait!! (in a yelling whisper) I think she's going back."
Silence for a moment while we hold our breath. Then as we let out a sigh of possible relief...the door knob jiggles and our little (notice the adjective) daughter's BELLOWS reverberate throughout the house, causing even Winston a minor heart attack! "So, uh, do you feel up to it?" (says the mother who secretly hopes her husband has superpower energy since hers is all used up)
"Yeah, it's O.K. I'll go." (husband gets out of bed in underwear and scrounges for something more decent in the dark)
Then the nightly routine begins: to the bathroom, back to bed, the explanations (Mama is sleeping, Papa is sleeping and Aleksander is sleeping), firmness, and of course hugs, kisses, and reassurances of our love for them.

We have devoured all sorts of parenting books on toddlers. Some of the most excellent were Parenting without Losing Your Mind, The New Dare to Discipline and The Strong-Willed Child. Whew!

You don't quite realize what you are jumping into when you get two toddlers at once. Thank God Zhenya is three and understands quite a bit. Any younger, though, and I think I would have to be committed (the men in white coats outing).

Zhenya, however, is at that magic age of finding out how good those parents really are! I believe in her mind, it's kind of like playing that old game of Battleship! Each party maneuvers their ships strategically with a 'seek and conquer' mission. Right now, she is advancing her troops with a view toward "more territory!". Erik should really love this game. Guys always enjoy that type of thing when they are boys. But it's downright confounding when a three year old girl is so good at it!

Well, the first week we were reeling with inexperience and insecurity beyond what we thought possible. We realized then that we had to define what our parenting style was going to be. We needed to agree on it, stick to it and become a united front. The best friend concept in marriage brings on a totally new meaning when you parent little ones.

Well, our chosen parenting style didn't really get solidified until the day our little Siberian Queen decided to redecorate the walls of her room with a most unsightly and smelly color scheme I have yet to see displayed at our nearest home improvement stores (some shades of brown just aren't marketable - this is one of them!).

At this point, Mama is thinking "Hmm, Great Fun!" She calls Papa at work for a bit of "uh, now what to I do!" wisdom. Of course, he is just as clueless, but there is comfort somehow, despite the ominous fact that we are both scrounging through our meager bag of parenting tools and deciding which to use for the occasion.

So I get off the phone and say to the Lord "Surely today you have a word for this child of yours, PLEASE!"

OOPS! End of Part One: Parental Bliss! Mama, has to intervene with a Play-Doh emergency! Zhenya has decided to feed her brother a mixture of orange and purple for a snack. To be continued....